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Today there are a lot of people living a watered-down version of Christianity. What concerns me is that many of these people who are running around and saying they are Christians do not have lifestyles that back it up.
Here is what Jesus says: “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!” (Revelation 3:15–16 NLT) A more literal translation of the word “spit” would be vomit.
I remember a time when my wife and I and our son went to a fast food restaurant and ordered some fries. When we got them, they were wilted and lukewarm.
My wife said, “These fries are not hot.”
We were running late, and I told her, “Cathe, we don’t have enough time to wait for more fries.”
“But they are not hot. Ask them to make us some hot fries.”
I didn’t want to ask, but I did. And so they brought out hot fries. Sure enough, they were a whole lot better. Who wants a lukewarm French fry? It is wilted from grease, dead to the world.
In the same way, God doesn’t want our lukewarm, half-baked, wannabe Christianity. He wants the real thing from us.
It would make more sense if Jesus had said, “I would rather you be hot or lukewarm. At least lukewarm is closer to hot.” But that is not what he said. Lukewarm is a worse condition than hot or cold. In other words, it is better to be on fire, fully passionate and serving Christ or totally cold and spiritually dead, not even believing in God, than to be lukewarm.
At least someone who is cold and spiritually dead may one day come to his senses, recognize his need for God, and come to Christ. The lukewarm person, on the other hand, has enough religion to satisfy himself. He may say, “I believe in Jesus. I read the Bible occasionally. I am OK with the man upstairs.” But what he is settling for is a watered-down version of what real Christianity is.
We can come to church and say, “I love the Lord,” and “Isn’t God good?” And then we can go outside the church and blatantly contradict what the Bible says by the way that we live. We need to get back to what real worship is and how God wants it to be done.
God created us to worship Him. He made us to glorify him. But there is a right and a wrong way to worship.
In John’s gospel, we find an overview given by Jesus on the purpose and objective of worship as he converses with a woman at a well in Samaria. This woman had been married and divorced five times and was living with a man at the time. Here was someone who obviously was looking for her Prince Charming to fill the void in her life, but she hadn’t found him. And as Jesus began to share the truth with her about how she could know the living God, she became a little bit uncomfortable. So she tried to change the subject:
“Sir,” the woman said, “you must be a prophet. So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim, where our ancestors worshiped?”
Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. But the time is coming – indeed it’s here now – when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way.” (John 4:19–23)
With these words, Jesus indicated the fundamental elements of true worship: in spirit and in truth. Notice also that Jesus said, “The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way.”
Right now, God Almighty is searching for someone who will fulfill their purpose for existence and glorify and praise His name. He wants to pour out His blessing into their lives.
True worship is not about having a great voice or talent; it is about having your heart in the right place. That is what God is interested in more than anything else. God looks on the heart when we worship. And he wants us to worship in spirit and in truth.
Let’s change the order of those words for a moment. If you are going to worship God, you have to first worship him in truth. The God we worship must be the true God and not a god of our creation. Jesus was saying this to point out that the Samaritan woman’s view of God was wrong: You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews.
In the same way people today will pick and choose things from the Bible they like and reject what they don’t like. But you can’t have your own Bible. You can’t edit God. You can try to remake God in your image, but when it is all said and done, you are not worshiping God; you are worshiping you.
There is only one way to know God, and there is only one way to worship God. That one way is through Jesus Christ – and Jesus Christ alone.